Sometimes you can hear them distantly calling your name while in the middle of a meeting or filling out spreadsheets: The Colorado mountains.
So tantalizingly close for Coloradans as they get through their workday, yet seemingly so far away, especially if you sit at a desk without any windows nearby.
The good news is that Denver features easy access to numerous peaks, parks and trails that are close enough to visit within an hour-long lunch break. Whether you want to eat your lunch among the wildflowers, sneak in a quick hike or just enjoy the views, the only hard part is picking where you’ll go.
Roxborough State Park
Just 20 minutes from south Denver, Roxborough features dramatic rock formations and scenic views of mountain peaks all around you. Check out the Fountain Formation while you munch, where red sandstone rocks jut from the ground, over 300-million years in the making.
Or bring your camera and snap a picture of one of the many forms of wildlife you’re likely to see at Roxborough, from black bears to red foxes. With 4,000 acres to explore, you won’t be able to take it all in during your lunch hour, but you’ll head back to work refreshed and relaxed. No promises it will last through your afternoon meetings.
The famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre is generally open to the public when there’s not an event scheduled, so a lunch-break trip is the perfect way to take in the dramatic rock formations while you live out your rock-star dreams.
Coming from nearly any part of Denver, it’s just over a 20-minute drive to Red Rocks, meaning you can pull over and hike along one of the many trails in the area, or if you’re one of those Coloradans that loves a good high-altitude workout, you can even run the stairs on your lunch break.
Staunton State Park
If you work near the Ken Caryl area, you can sneak in a quick drive over to Staunton State Park and get plenty of mountain views without ever getting out of the car. Of course, you may want to block out some extra time to check out the waterfalls, cliffs and numerous hiking and biking trails that span from 8,000 to 10,000 feet in altitude.
And since the park is currently open for day use only, a lunchtime visit is the perfect way to take in Staunton’s many natural wonders.
Deer Creek Canyon Park
Just 20 minutes from downtown Littleton, Deer Creek Canyon Park offers miles of trails to get your mountain fix, whether hiking, biking or riding horses. We realize it might be tough to get your horse down there during lunch hour, but hey, it’s Colorado.
Deer Creek features a 2.7 mile loop trail, great picnic facilities and some of the best foliage viewing in Colorado come autumn.
Just about 30 minutes west of Denver, you can take a drive up Lookout Mountain Rd. in Golden and back down again within an hour. Pull over at one of the outlooks to truly take it all in, and if you’ve got some extra time you can stop by Buffalo Bill’s gravesite.
You can even grab some homemade fudge for dessert from the snack bar, or visit close to Buffalo Bill’s birthday (February 26) for a snowy view and free cupcakes.
Being stuck in a cubicle all day is hard, but Denverites are blessed with plenty of choices for getting an altitude fix, even if it’s a quick one. If you can’t make it to one of these spots, you can always just get in the car and start driving west — and don’t forget to put John Denver on the radio.